Category Archives: Disaster Assistance

Presbyterians ready to help the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Ida

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance seeks to bring hope and healing after the Category 4 storm. You can help

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Original Article Here

Radar image of Hurricane Ida

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Doppler radar imagery indicates that the eye of Ida made landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana near Port Fourchon around 1155 a.m. Central Time. (Photo courtesy of NOAA)

And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. — Romans 5:5

LEXINGTON, Kentucky  As news comes in of the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is organizing a response that will help sustain life and restore hope in the coming days.

“Our hearts break and rise up in prayer for the people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, where the catastrophic damage from last year’s hurricanes in Lake Charles, February’s freeze and spring flooding, along with the continuing impact of COVID are still largely unrepaired, and the burden on the people of this hard-hit state is overwhelming,” the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, director of PDA, said Sunday. “The PC(USA) must stand with our siblings in the region as they seek to serve as wounded healers for those who have not had equitable access to rebuilding and whose vulnerability in the face of new threats is significant.

“Right now, we need the church’s prayers and financial assistance.”

Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm at approximately 11:55 a.m. Central Time Sunday near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, just slightly southwest of New Orleans, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, according to The Weather Channel, causing significant flooding. Communities such as Shell Beach, Louisiana and Waveland, Mississippi reported storm surges of more than seven feet, and widespread power outages are being reported.

A slow-moving storm, Ida is expected to dump large amounts of rain as it works its way inland and across the Southeast in coming days.

PDA has reached out to presbyteries in the path of the storm to offer support and stands ready to assist.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is the emergency response and refugee program of the denomination, committed to the long-term journey of recovery of communities adversely affected by a crisis or catastrophic event. It is funded by One Great Hour of Sharing and has designated funds for responding to specific disasters.

Ida’s landfall comes on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans. Last year, PDA staff and volunteers reflected on the years-long effort to aid in recovery from the historic storm.

“It was one of those transformational moments,” said the Rev. Jim Kirk, who was a National Response Team member at the time and now serves as PDA’s Associate for Disaster Response in the U.S. “One of the great things about people of faith is that in the face of overwhelming need, there is a deep calling to respond.”

To support recovery efforts in the wake of Ida, click here. You’ll be taken to the PC(USA) website to donate securely and quickly.

If you prefer to mail a check, you may send it to:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

PO Box 643700

Pittsburgh, PA, 15264-3700

Please designate where you want the funds to go by writing DR000169 in the memo line.

You may also call Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, at 1-800-872-3283 and donate by phone.

Follow Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.

Give to One Great Hour of Sharing to enable Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to respond quickly to catastrophic events.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Support PDA’s response to our neighbors in Haiti

The scale of the disaster facing Haiti after the Aug. 14 earthquake is becoming clearer. The quake and its aftershocks have left almost 1,500 people dead, thousands more injured and an unknown number of people are still missing. At least 13,000 homes were destroyed, and roads, bridges and communication systems have been severely damaged. This catastrophe comes on top of Haiti’s ongoing struggles with endemic hunger and poverty, COVID-19 and continuing civil unrest, and as Tropical Storm Grace bears down on the region.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is providing emergency relief and short-term recovery in the impacted areas through our established local partners and in collaboration with ACT Alliance and its members. The PC(USA), through PDA and together with regional World Mission colleagues, will remain active throughout the entire recovery process, accompanying our partners in the area as they determine long-term program needs and providing financial support for rebuilding and resilience.

The needs for the response will be great. God’s people are once again called on to stand in the “GAP” — Give. Act. Pray.
GIVE. ACT. PRAY.

GIVE: Gifts can be made online, by phone at (800) 872-3283, or by check, which can be mailed to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

ACT:

  • Download and use the bulletin insert.
  • Share our Mobile Cause campaign link with your members.
  • Learn how you and your congregation can help families who have lost everything in the devastation. Stay informed and like us on Facebook, download resources and share updates with your congregation.

 

PRAY: As this earthquake continues to cause destruction and loss of life, please pray with us that the communities affected by this event and those offering assistance will be strengthened, have their needs met and be reminded of the hope found in God.

Hygiene Kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Mid KY Presbytery is again collecting items to be used in making Hygiene Kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. These kits are distributed to persons adversely affected by natural disaster.

Each kits contains 1 comb, 1 bar of soap, 1 hand towel, 1 washcloth, 1 nail clipper, 1 toothbrush and 10 bandaids.

Due to Covid they are having people collect items and box them. On May 14th they will get together safely at Beulah PC in Louisville and load these boxes into a truck which will take them to a distribution center in Arkansas. The kits will be assembled there from the supplies we send them. If it is not possible for folks to bring their items to Beulah PC, arrangements can be made for pick up.

If any church or group wants to collect items, please contact Linda Reichenbecher at (502) 802-1908 or LJR920@nullgmail.com. Monetary donations are also happily accepted. Checks can be made out to the Presbytery of MidKY with designation of “hygiene kits”, or donation can be made through the link on our web site.

COVID-19: Finding Information and Resources

Updated: 02/05/2021

Council Guidance on In-Person Worship 2.5.2021 – Click Here

All Presbytery Council guidance is collected here.
Resources for Congregations may be found here.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have compiled a series of resources for congregational leaders and members. It’s available here: https://www.pcusa.org/covid19/

COVID-19 Legislation Overview: A Guide for Presbyterian Churches and Ministers

OGA web mapping tool to show COVID-19 confirmed cases

Additional Sources of information:

Check these sites regularly, as information is subject to change.

Emergency student loan management enacted during COVID-19 crisis

Original article on presbyterianmission.org

PC(USA)’s Financial Aid for Service: Payments on eligible federal student loans are suspended through Sept. 30

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Melonee Tubb, the associate for Financial Aid for Service, is photographed during worship in the Chapel at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — New resources from the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Financial Aid for Service provide guidance on how to manage one’s student loans, now that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Melonee Tubb, associate for FAF, said what people need to know right away is that they could be “off the hook’” for their federal student loan debt through Sept. 30.  The new law automatically suspends payments on eligible loans for six months, with no interest accrued.

By law, lenders have until Easter weekend to alert borrowers that their payments have been suspended.

Under the CARES legislation, loans made under the Federal Direct Loan Program that are eligible for suspended payments include Direct, Subsidized, Unsubsidized, PLUS, and Consolidation loans. Payments for loans acquired through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), transferred to the Department of Education, are also eligible.

Tubb said people with a FFELP loan should check immediately because those loans managed by a private bank or institution aren’t eligible for automatic suspension.  Federal Perkins Loans managed by universities and any private loans are also not eligible under the CARES ACT.

“If you are having trouble making payments and have one of these ineligible loans, call your servicer immediately,” she said. “Some servicers are offering additional emergency deferment or forbearance options.”

The bottom line: Tubb encourages those with student debt to contact their servicer to find out more about how the new law will impact them. For example, Tubb said anyone working towards public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) or loan rehabilitation will get additional relief under the CARES legislation.

“Their suspended payments will be treated as if the borrower made the payments and count toward the 120 payments necessary for forgiveness,” she said.

Additional information on how the CARES Act might impact your federal student loans and tips on how to manage student loan debt during emergencies can be downloaded here.


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Presbytery Council Recommendations for Worship & Meetings

Dear Family in Christ,

I bring you greetings from the Presbytery Council, eighteen wise leaders who have been elected to attend to the overall health and wellbeing of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley, and to act as a Commission of the Presbytery between Assemblies.

The Council met via Zoom video-conference today to address the evolving COVID-19 situation. It was the unanimous opinion of the Council to recommend that sessions and congregations follow the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that all in-person worship and meetings of ten or more people be cancelled through May 10, 2020 (eight weeks from the beginning of the CDC guidelines).  Out of an abundance of caution, we also recommend that congregations of fewer that ten worshippers adopt the same practice, as many of our folks are in a higher-risk category and should be staying home as much as possible. One member of the Council, the Rev. Deborah Fortel, noted that “as an older member of society, I recognize that my job is to be careful and stay home and healthy to avoid putting additional burdens on the medical system at this time.”

This is difficult news, both to give and to receive, but we believe it is vital to the health and safety of our members, friends, and communities.  Another member of the Council, Rev. Kevin Fleming, reminded us that this is now one of the ways that we can embody the second great commandment, to “love our neighbor as we love ourself.”

Some congregations will be able to offer worship online, mostly through facebook live. This is a good option for those who have the means to do so. The Presbyterian Mission Agency will be hosting a webinar tomorrow, March 19, at 12:00pm EDT / 11:00am CDT on adapting worship for streaming. You can find more information here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/1001-to-host-zoom-conversation-thursday-on-how-to-stream-worship-services/.

Producing and providing online technology may be difficult for some of our churches and pastors.  Later this week, I will send out a list of churches who are providing online worship, along with the links, so that anyone who wishes might join in.  We are also thinking about ways to connect our presbytery and its people through Holy Week and Easter. Please stay tuned…

The Council will meet next week as well, and we will continue to address the situation as it evolves, including the financial implications that our congregations are likely to face.

As Rev. Felipe Martinez said to the members and friends of First Presbyterian Church, Columbus: Our plans to weather this storm won’t be perfect or polished, but they will be our faithful effort to remain connected with one another. We need to feel that we’re there for one another. 

Please know that the Presbytery Council is praying for you and your congregations. And know, as well, that in life and in death, and in all the circumstances of life, we belong to God. And we belong to one another. Thanks be to God for these blessed connections.

Peace and all good,

The Rev’d. Susan C. McGhee
Executive Presbyter
The Presbytery of Ohio Valley